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Henickstein had paid him twenty-seven and a half florins for a pound sterling and invited him and Gleichenstein to dine the next day with Clementi. Very significantly the letter ends with: "Greet everything that is dear to you and me. How gladly would I like to add to whom we are dear????" Lind was a tailor and Henickstein the son of a banker. The next day he writes that on the previous evening the Archduke had requested his presence on the day set for the dinner and he had been obliged to send Henickstein a declination. The day after that he concludes a note telling about the meeting at the Archduke's with "Farewell. This evening I will come to the dear Malfattis." Here is the next letter in full: As I shall have enough time this morning, I shall come to the Savage (zum vrilden Mann—a restaurant) in the Prater. I fancy that I shall find no savages there but beautiful Graces, and for them I must don my armor. I know you will not think me a sponge because I come only for dinner, and so I will come straight. If I find you at home, well and good; if not, I'll hurry to the Prater to embrace you. On the day after that he sends Gleichenstein an S. (a sonata, doubtless) which he had "promised Therese" and adds: "Give my compliments to all of them. It seems as if the wounds with which wicked men have pierced my soul might be healed by them"; he sends 50 florins more for cravats and makes a boast of it that Gigons, Malfatti's little dog, had supped with him and accompanied him home. This is the first of the only two allusions which Beethoven makes in all the papers, printed or written, relating to him, of a domestic pet animal. Another letter reads: "I beg of you to let me know when the M. remain at home of an evening. You surely had a pleasant sleep—I slept little, but I prefer such an awaking to all sleep." Again he writes to say that he wished "Madame M." would give him permission to pick out a pianoforte for her which she wished to buy "at Schanz's." Though it was his rule never to accept commissions on such sales, he wanted to save money for the lady on this purchase. Now we reach the notes to Zmeskall, the first of which is endorsed by the recipient as having been received on April 18, 1810. From Zmeskall's lodgings in the Walfischgasse it was but a few steps around the corner in the Karnthnerthorstrasse to an entrance of the Biirgerspital where Zmeskall lived, of whose readiness to oblige him he could and did avail himself to an extent which at length excited misgivings in his own mind that he was really going too far and abusing his friend's kindness. This time Beethoven's want was of a very peculiar nature, namely a lookingIntercourse With The Malfatti Family 175
glass; that it was not for shaving purposes but for a more general control of his toilet is indicated by the second note: (April 18, 1810.) Dear Zmeskall do send me your looking-glass which hangs beside your window for a few hours, mine is broken, if you would be so kind as to buy me one like it to-day it would be a great favor, I'll recoup you for your expenditure at once—forgive my importunity dear Z. Dear Z. do not get angry at my little note—think of the situation which I am in, like Hercules once at Queen Omphale's??? I asked you to buy me a looking-glass like yours, and beg you as soon as you are not using yours which I am returning to send it back to me for mine is broken—farewell and don't again write to me about the great man—for I never felt the strength or weakness of human nature as I feel it just now. Remain fond of me. (Without date—the original in Boston.) Do not get vexed, dear Z. because of my continued demands upon you—let me know how much you paid for the looking-glass? Farewell we shall see each other soon in the Swan as the food is daily growing worse in the (illegible)—I have had another violent attack of colic since day before yesterday, but it is better to-day. Your friend Beethoven. The date of the first note (April 18) is important as showing that at the time Beethoven was not in the country but still in Vienna and that, consequently, the 8th mentioned in the letter to Therese Malfatti which follows, was not the 8th of April, but of May. From this letter we deduce that Beethoven's intercourse with the Malfatti family in Vienna had become more animated and intimate, that Beethoven improvised at the pianoforte and that at the punchbowl his spirits rose rather high ("forget the nonsense"). The conclusion points pretty plainly towards a desire to be united with the family in closer bonds. The Malfattis had probably gone to their country home towards the end of April or beginning of May. The following letter to Gleichenstein was probably written on the day after the merry evening of which the letter to Therese speaks: Your report plunged me from the regions of happiness into the depths. Why the adjunction, You would let me know when there would be another musicale, am I nothing more than your musician or that of the others?—that at least is the interpretation, I can therefore seek support only in my own breast, there is none for me outside of it; no, nothing but wounds has friendship and kindred feelings for me. So be it then, for you, poor B. there is no happiness in the outer world, you must create it in yourself, only in the world of ideality will you find friends.
I beg of you to set my mind at rest as to whether I was guilty of any impropriety yesterday, or if you cannot do that then tell me the truth, I hear it as willingly as I speak it—there is still time, the truth may yet help me. Farewell—don't let your only friend Dorner know anything of this. The letter to Therese reads:With this you are receiving, honored Therese, what I promised, and if there were not the best of reasons against it, you would receive more in order to show that I always do more for my friends than I promise—I hope and have no doubt that you keep yourself as well occupied as pleasantly entertained—but not so much that you cannot also think of me. It would perhaps be presuming upon your kindness or placing too high a value upon myself if I were to write you: "people are only together when they are in each other's company, even the distant one, the absent one lives for us," who would dare to write such a sentiment to the volatile T. who handles everything in this world so lightly? Do not forget, in laying out your occupation, the pianoforte, or music generally; you have so beautiful a talent for it, why not cultivate it exclusively, you who have so much feeling for everything that is beautiful and good, why will you not make use of it in order to learn the more perfect things in so beautiful an art, which always reflects its light upon us—I live very solitarily and quietly, although now and then lights try to arouse me there is still for me a void which cannot be filled since you are all gone and which defies even my art which has always been so faithful to me—your pianoforte is ordered and you will have it soon—explain for yourself the difference between the treatment of a theme which I invented one evening and the manner in which I finally wrote it down, but don't get the punch to help you—how lucky you were to be able to go to the country so soon, I shall not have this pleasure until the 8th, I rejoice in the prospect like a child, how joyous I am when I can walk amongst bushes and trees, herbs, rocks, nobody can love the country as I do—since woods, trees, rocks, return the answer which man wants to hear. (Four lines stricken out). You will soon receive four of my compositions whereat you should not have to complain too much about the difficulties—have you read Goethe's "Wilhelm Meister," Shakespeare translated by Schlegel, one has so much leisure in the country it might be agreeable if I were to send you these works. Chance has brought it about that I have an acquaintance in your neighborhood, perhaps you will see me at your home early some morning for half an hour and then away, you see I wish to be as little tedious as possible. Commend me to the good will of your father, your mother, although I have no right as yet to ask it of them, also to your aunt M. Farewell, honored T. I wish you all that is good and beautiful in life, think of me and willingly—forget the nonsense—be convinced no one can wish that your life may be more joyous and more happy than I, even if you have no sympathy for Your devoted servant and friend Beethoven. N. B. It would really be very nice of you if you were to write a few lines to say what I can do for you here? Under such circumstances Beethoven wrote the famous letter of May 2, 1810 to Wegeler in Coblenz, asking him to Preparations For Marriage 177
procure a copy of his baptismal certificate for him. In this letter he says: A few years ago my quiet, retired mode of life ceased, and I was forcibly drawn into activities of the world; I have not yet formed a favorable opinion of it but rather one against it—but who is there could escape the influence of the external storms? Yet I should be happy, perhaps one of the happiest of men, if the demon had not taken possession of my ears. If I had not read somewhere that a man may not voluntarily part with his life so long as a good deed remains for him to perform, I should long ago have been no more—and indeed by my own hands. O, life is so beautiful, but to me it is poisoned. You will not decline to accede to my friendly request if I beg of you to secure my baptismal certificate for me. Whatever expense may attach to the matter, since you have an account with Steffen Breuning, you can recoup yourself at once from that source and I will make it good at once to Steffen here. If you should yourself think it worth while to investigate the matter and make the trip from Coblenz to Bonn, charge everything to me. But one thing must be borne in mind, namely, that there was a brother born before I was, who was also named Ludwig with the addition Maria, but who died. To fix my age beyond doubt, this brother must first be found, inasmuch as I already know that in this respect a mistake has been made by others, and I have been said to be older than I am. Unfortunately I myself lived for a time without knowing my age. I had a family register but it has been lost heaven knows how. Therefore do not be bored if I urge you to attend to this matter, to find Maria and the present Ludwig who was born after him. The sooner you send me the baptismal certificate the greater will be my obligation. To the "Notizen" (1838) Wegeler published a few pages of appendix on the occasion of the Beethoven festival at Bonn (1845), giving therein a most valuable paragraph explanatory of this important letter: It seems that Beethoven, once in his life, entertained the idea of marrying, after having been in love many times, as is related in the "Notizen" (pp. 40, 42 et seq. and 117 et seq.). Many persons as well as myself were impressed by the urgency with which in his letter of May 10 [sic] he besought me to secure his baptismal certificate for him. He wants to pay all the expenditures, even a journey from Coblenz to Bonn. And then he adds explicit instructions which I was to observe in looking up the certificate in order to get the right one. I found the solution of the riddle in a letter written to me three months later by my brotherin-law St. v. Breuning. In this he says: "Beethoven tells me at least once a week that he intends to write to you; but I believe his marriage project has fallen through, and for this reason he no longer feels the lively desire to thank you for your trouble in getting him the baptismal certificate." In the thirty-ninth year of his life Beethoven had not given up thoughts of marriage. We know now that the marriage project fell through early in May, soon after he had written the letter to Wegeler. Two
short letters to Gleichenstein instruct us slightly touching the conclusion of this psychological drama which, no doubt, tore the heart of Beethoven. It would seem as if at first Beethoven wanted to visit the Malfattis at their country home, but at the last preferred to send a formal proposal of marriage by the hands of Gleichenstein. We have no testimony concerning the refusal beyond the utterance of the niece and the cessation of all correspondence on the subject. Here are the letters: You are living on a calm and peaceful sea or, possibly, are already in a safe harbor—you do not feel the distress of the friend who is still in the storm—or you dare not feel it—what will they think of me in the star Venus Urania, how will they judge me without seeing me—my pride is so humbled, I would go there with you uninvited—-let me see you at my lodging to-morrow morning, I shall expect you at about 9 o'clock at breakfast—Dorner can come with you at another time—if you were but franker with me, you are certainly concealing something from me, you want to spare me and this uncertainty is more painful than the most fatal certainty—Farewell if you cannot come let me know in advance— think and act for me—I cannot entrust to paper more of what is going on within me. Dear friend, so cursedly late—press them all warmly to your heart— why can I not be with you? Farewell, I will be with you on Wednesday morning—the letter is written so that the whole world may read it—if you find that the paper covering is not clean enough, put another one on, I cannot tell at night whether it is clean—farewell, dear friend, think and act also for your faithful friend.
Beethoven's relations with another fair friend now demand attention. In the Vienna suburban road Erdbeergasse stands the lofty house then numbered 98, its rear windows overlooking Rasoumowsky's gardens, the Donau canal and the Prater, whence on May 15, 1810, Elizabeth Brentano (Bettina) wrote to Goethe: Here I live in the house of the deceased Birkenstock, surrounded by two thousand copperplate engravings, as many hand-drawings, as many hundred old ash urns and Etruscan lamps, marble vases, antique fragments of hands and feet, paintings, Chinese garments, coins, geological collections, sea insects, telescopes and numberless maps, plans of ancient empires and cities sunk in ruin, artistically carved walking-sticks, precious documents, and finally the sword of Emperor Carolus. Joseph Melchior von Birkenstock (born in 1738), the honored, trusted and valued servant of Maria Theresia and Kaiser Joseph, the friend and brother-in-law of the celebrated Sonnenfels—the esteemed correspondent of so many of the noblest men of his time, including the American philosopher Franklin and the Scotch historian Robertson, the reformer of the Austrian school system, the promoter of all liberal ideas so long as in those days progress